Bahamas, built by bacteria from Saharan dust?


This video says about itself:

Wildlife of Exuma Island, Bahamas – Lonely Planet travel video

Visitors to sparsely populated Exuma, a remote island in the Bahamas, can expect a close encounter with sharks and iguanas.

From New Scientist:

Bahamian paradise built by bacteria using Saharan dust

13:40 28 July 2014 by Flora Graham

The Bahamas may have been created by bacteria thriving on minerals in dust from the Sahara desert, 8000 kilometres away.

In this NASA satellite image from 2009, it is possible to see how the many islands of the Bahamas are actually the highest points of distinct areas where the sea is shallow and turquoise.

These turquoise waters mark the top of the Bahama Banks – underwater columns of coral reef limestone more than 4500 metres tall that have formed over the past 100 million years. It was thought that tiny plants and animals generate the vast amounts of carbonate that make up the towers, similar to how coral reefs are formed. But the surrounding sea is poor in nutrients, so what would have sustained them is a mystery.

Now researchers including Peter Swart from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Florida are showing that photosynthetic cyanobacteria may actually have done much of the construction.

Cyanobacteria are involved in the precipitation of calcium carbonate in the sea, but they would have needed an enormous amount of iron to do their work. This could have been provided by the dust that blows across the Atlantic from the Sahara.

There are characteristic traces of iron and manganese in recent carbonate sediment on the banks, pointing to their Saharan origin. So the team suggests that the Bahama Banks are being built up by cyanobacteria and may also have been in the past.

The results of this research are here.

Reddish egrets, what do they eat?


This video from the USA is called Crazy Reddish Egret dance hunting for fish, Marco Island, Florida.

From Waterbirds in the USA:

Comparisons of Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) Diet During the Breeding Season Across its Geographic Range

Abstract

Although the prey of Reddish Egrets (Egretta rufescens) generally consists of shallow-water, euryhaline fish species, rangewide differences in breeding season diet have not been examined. Furthermore, the relative proportions of the two Reddish Egret color morphs vary from east to west across the species’ range. Color morph may influence foraging efficiency, but variations in prey across the species’ range and between morphs is undocumented.

By examining boluses from Reddish Egret (n = 109) nestlings, prey species proportions were compared between morphs, among regions and among colonies within Texas. Between regions, prey species and proportion of species differed widely; however, fish species with similar life histories were selected across the Reddish Egret’s range (Bahamas: 100% sheepshead minnow (Cyprinodon variegatus); Texas: 85% sheepshead minnow; Baja California Sur: 49% American shadow goby (Quietula y-cauda); Yucatán: 64% Yucatán pupfish (C. artifrons).

Within the Laguna Madre in Texas, significant differences in prey species were not detected between morphs (F(1,61) = 1.36, P = 0.224); however, prey mass by species differed between colonies (F(1,60) = 2.68, P = 0.010). While our results only pertain to Reddish Egret diet during the breeding season, this study increases our understanding of Reddish Egret ecology and provides initial diet information across the species’ range.

Female Bachman’s sparrows singing, new study


This video from Florida in the USA is about a singing male Bachman’s sparrow.

From the Southeastern Naturalist in the USA:

An Unusual Song-like Vocalization Produced by Female Bachman’s Sparrows (Peucaea aestivalis)

Abstract

We describe a new female vocalization for Peucaea aestivalis (Bachman’s Sparrow) that may represent a type of female song. The vocalization has characteristics that are similar to the “excited” or “flight” songs that male P. aestivalis produce, and similar song characteristics can be found among other members of the genus, including one congener for which female singing is common.

Two marked female P. aestivalis were observed producing the vocalization as well as four unmarked individuals that were paired with territorial males. A recording of one of these unmarked individuals collected in 1989 is similar to the vocalizations observed for marked females. Field notes collected at the time the recording was made suggested the “odd song” was produced by a female, and we provide a sonogram of this new vocalization based on this recording. The vocalization appears to be rare and may be difficult to link to external stimuli and social function.

Save rare Florida panthers from Big Oil


This video from the USA is called Rescued Florida Panther Kitten.

It says about itself:

20 February 2014

See photos of him as he grows: http://www.flickr.com/photos/myfwcmed…

Video: Day 1 – 1/23/14 – A single male kitten is discovered in the den of FP195. The 7-day-old kitten is cold (hypothermic) and listless and shows signs of hypoglycemia. FWC panther biologists determine the tiny 1-pound kitten will not survive in this state without intervention and that it’s best chance for its survival is if they rescue him. The biologists take the kitten to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida (ASH) in Naples, where veterinarians and staff perform life-saving measures.

Day 2 – 1/24/14 – FWC panther biologists visit UCFP205 at the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida (ASH) the day after his rescue to assess his condition. UCFP205 improved greatly and was responding as a healthy 7-day-old panther kitten should but still required 24-hour care. Biologists and veterinarians are pleased with the progress the kitten has made and are optimistic about his survival.

Week 2: Biologists and veterinarians are pleased with the progress the kitten has made and are optimistic about his survival.

Florida residents can support conservation efforts like the rescue of this kitten by purchasing a “Protect the Panther” license plate at BuyaPlate.com. Fees from license plate sales are the primary funding source for the FWC’s research and management of Florida panthers.

For more information on Florida panthers, visit www.floridapanthernet.org.

Full story: http://myfwc.com/news/news-releases/2…

Want to see a super cute updated video? Check out Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo‘s video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofr-Y7…

From the CREDO Mobilize site in the USA:

Protect Florida Panthers from Big Oil

To: Fred McManus, Chief, Groundwater and Underground Injection Control, EPA

With as few as 100 Florida panthers alive today, we can’t allow additional threats from Big Oil and its machinery. I urge the EPA to deny the permit to drill a new, unneeded injection well less than one mile from the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.

Why is this important?

As a professional nature photographer, I have witnessed firsthand the leading cause of panther deaths in Florida—being struck by vehicles (72%). Not long ago, I had the heartbreaking experience of coming upon a Florida panther kitten that had been killed by a car. My very first instinct was to reach out and pat her lifeless body which was left strewn across the centerline of the road. As I did that, I came to realize that her mother was calling out to her from some brush not far away. I knew then that I needed to do more than just photograph Florida’s wildlife if I wanted it to endure. I knew I needed to take action to protect Florida panthers and protecting them from Big Oil and their machinery is part of that.

Florida panthers number barely over 100 in the wild and can’t afford unnecessary, new threats. Yet, the state of Florida has issued a permit for the construction of a new oil and gas waste disposal well in prime habitat for the endangered Florida panther. This well would be placed less than a mile from the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, and would bring with it hundreds of truck trips that could harass or kill endangered panthers, pushing panthers closer to the brink of extinction. Just this year, 12 panthers have been killed in Florida putting the state on path to exceed the average of 17 panthers killed annually by vehicles.

Not only would this well increase vehicle traffic, it could potentially contaminate the ground and water Florida panthers rely on.The waste that will be injected into this well could be very toxic. No one knows exactly what is in the waste because Congress exempted oil companies from a federal hazardous waste law back in the 1980s. We should not entertain any plan that might bring new toxic threats to these already-beleaguered cats.

Additionally, the Texas company that is applying to drill this well is already in hot water over another well in the state of Florida. It has been fined $25,000 for acting outside the scope of the permitted activity at the well site. In short, they’ve already been accused of breaking the law once–why give them another chance while putting highly-endangered panthers at risk?

Please urge the EPA to block the construction of this well and prevent further threats to Florida panthers, their habitat and clean water resources needed by both humans and wildlife.

How it will be delivered

In person if a meeting is possible. If not, by email.

You can sign the petition here.

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Young loggerhead turtles, new research


This video from the USA is called Loggerhead sea turtles hatching. Sebastian, Florida.

From Wildlife Extra:

Young turtles seek warmer climes

March 2014: New study shows where young loggerhead sea turtles disappear to during their ‘lost years’.

Once baby turtles have successfully hatched and made the risky journey to the sea they are rarely seen until they have grown till 40cm, between seven and 12 years later. Yet what happens to them during this period scientists call the ‘lost years’ has remained a mystery until now.

To solve the mystery a team of scientists, led by Katherine Mansfield of the University of Central Florida, attached solar-powered transmitters to 17 turtles collected from nests along the south-east coast of Florida. The team reared the turtles in the laboratory until they were 11-18cm long before releasing them in the Gulf Stream off the Floridian coast.

They were then tracked for between 27 and 220 days as they travelled distances from 200 to more than 4300km. The scientists found that they all headed north and remained within or close to the Gulf Stream and tended to travel in clockwise direction around the circular North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre currents.

Some turtles however did move out of these Gyre currents into the centre; an area called the Sargrasso sea. The team suggest that this could be linked to the seasonal drift of Sargassum, a type of macro-algae that floats in large mats and to take advantage of the habitat they offer, in particular the warmth the mats trap at the water surface close to them.

For young turtles, staying warm is of upmost importance. Warmer temperatures help their skeletons grow quicker, making them increasingly less vulnerable.

Therefore the team suggest that where these young turtles headed could have been closely linked to where they could find warmer habitats to boost their growth so that once they are large enough they can return to the coast much less vulnerable than when they left as hatchlings.

“Going with the Flow” or Not: Evidence of Positive Rheotaxis in Oceanic Juvenile Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta) in the South Pacific Ocean Using Satellite Tags and Ocean Circulation Data: here.

Three new turtle and tortoise books for kids encourage adventures: here.

Israeli team designs prosthetic fin to save turtle: here.

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Endangered right whale saving attempt by biologists


This video says about itself:

Watch: Endangered Right Whale Trapped In Fishing Line:Rescue by Wildlife biologists

20 February 2014

The fate of the whale hangs in the balance with at least 20ft of fishing rope still tangled in its mouth despite a rescue attempt. An endangered whale has become entangled in heavy fishing rope off the US coast of Georgia.

Wildlife biologists had to cut away more than 280ft of the commercial fishing line which was being dragged by the whale.

It is now swimming easier than it was, but they had to leave the whale with at least 20ft of the thick rope still tangled in its mouth.

Clay George, a marine mammal biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said this would give it “a fighting chance” to free itself.

He said the whale had suffered injuries to its head and tail.

“Disentanglement can’t save every whale. The focus must be on prevention.”

By Philip Ross:

Endangered Whale Gets ‘Fighting Chance’ After Biologists Cut 280 Feet Of Fishing Line From Whale’s Mouth [VIDEO]

A 4-year-old endangered right whale that became entangled in nearly 300 feet of fishing line was partially freed Monday after biologists pursued it and removed some of the heavy rope from its mouth.

The 30-foot whale was spotted in the waters near Jacksonville, Fla., during Navy aerial surveys. Biologists from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were alerted to the distressed whale’s predicament, and quickly sprang into action to free the giant.

According to Associated Press, the rescue crew was able to remove about 280 feet of the heavy commercial fishing rope, but had to leave some of it inside the whale’s mouth.

“We feel like what we did gives the whale a fighting chance to shed the remainder of the rope on its own,” Clay Georgia, a marine mammal biologist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, told AP. “The real take-home message here is, we can’t just go out and save and fix every whale that shows up entangled. In some cases it’s just completely impossible to disentangle that whale.”

Experts say that encounters with commercial fishing gear and accidents with ships off the East Coast are the biggest threats right whales face in the wild.

Right whales, which can reach 50 feet in length and are identified by their enormous heads, are the rarest of all large whales. According to National Geographic, right whales were hunted nearly to extinction by 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century whalers. The whales were especially valuable for their abundant oil and baleen, the row of keratin bristles used to filter krill through their mouths. Baleen was used to make corsets, buggy whips and other popular items.

Northern right whales, which are found in the Atlantic along the eastern coast of Canada and the U.S., are the most endangered of all the right-whale species. There are only about 450 northern right whales left in the wild. Each winter, the whales migrate to warmer waters off the coasts of Georgia and Florida to give birth to their calves.

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Rare birds in Florida


This video is called Birds of Florida.

From the Herald-Tribune in the USA:

Cold winter brings rare birds to Florida

By VALERIE GARMAN
Halifax Media Group

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 8:07 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 8:07 a.m.

PANAMA CITY BEACH – Bay County has been a destination for a more literal type of snowbird this winter.

Frigid temperatures across the country have brought some migrating birds farther south than they usually fly, with some making the trek all the way from the Arctic Circle.

“We’ve had a number of birds that have been quite rare for Bay County,” Bay County Audubon Society member Neil Lamb said Monday. “Probably the most exciting we’ve seen is a snow bunting that is out at Deepwater Point at St. Andrews State Park, where the [St. Andrew] Pass and Grand Lagoon meet.”

The arctic snow bunting doesn’t usually travel farther south than Ohio for the winter. Ironically, the bird was first spotted by a human snowbird about a week ago among the Savannah sparrows and yellow warblers common to the state park’s sand dunes.

“They’re one of the Arctic regulars and they winter usually down in the Great Plains part of the U.S.,” said Lamb, who led a walk with the Audubon Society on Saturday to seek out the snow bunting. “It’s quite unusual.”

Colder-than-usual temperatures in the northern states also have brought huge numbers of loons and ducks to the area this year.

While most of the visiting loons and ducks are species commonly seen in the winter, Lamb said he also recently spotted another arctic bird, a red-throated loon, among a flock of about 55 others in St. Andrew Bay.

The bay also has served as a winter home to thousands of ducks, more than usual this year, as they fatten up on feasts of fish and shrimp to prepare for the long journey back home.

“If you look at the weather reports, the Great Lakes have been totally frozen over for the first time in years and years,” Lamb said. “When the water’s frozen, the ducks can’t survive on ice. They have wings, so they’ll go where there’s open water.”

Some spotted species include red-breasted mergansers, hooded mergansers and redhead ducks.

Lamb said news of the rare bird sightings also have brought a boost for ecotourism in the area, with bird enthusiasts from across the Southeast hoping to catch a peek.

“It’s been bringing quite a few people into the area,” said Lamb, who noted there are three times as many bird watchers as there are hunters.

Avid birders often upload their finds to an online documentation site, eBird.org, which sends out “rare bird alerts” when unusual species are reported in a user’s region of interest.

“We’re always on alert,” Lamb said.

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